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Exclusive Interview with '2Point0' & 'RRR' VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 • Telugu Comments

Srinivas Mohan, the VFX supervisor of the much-awaited '2.0', has spoken exclusively with IndiaGlitz to give a peek into what went into the making of the big film.  He talks about what were the challenging aspects of doing the sci-fi, working with Shankar, how to control VFX budget, being on location as a VFX man, working on the RRR movie and on 'Baahubali-The Beginning' in the past and more. 

Journey from start to end:

It's more than a big-budget project.  I have worked with Shankar garu since 'Boys'.  I took a brief break from him for 'Baahubali-1'.  

It was 3.5 years ago that I started working on '2.0'.  I have been working with Shankar garu since the time the script was being readied till recently.  Whatever was possible was shot in live locations.  There are many characters in the movie.  These characters were designed through VFX.  Adding emotions to it was not easy.  

From conception to delivery:

Conceptual elaboration of the director's vision was followed by Pre-visualization.  Since VFX shots are imagined by actors, on location, I would tell the actors where to look, etc. Character designing in the studio comes next.  Finally comes DI.  

Cinematographer, production designer etc could work on other films during the making of '2.0'.  But I had to work exclusively on this movie for 3.5 years.

Shankar challenges with every film

Shankar garu locks the script 100 percent.  He doesn't change anything once it's locked. As a result, the VFX supervisor has an advantage.  Communication becomes easy.  He challenges me with every film.  He gives something new every time.  We had to do R&D from scratch for '2.0'.  

The difficulty of creating non-humans

There is a bird in the film which is made with mobile phones.  Unless it's executed, we wouldn't know how it will look.  It can't be designed just like that.  When the first attempt didn't go down well, we had to rework with inputs from different technicians.  If Shankar garu doesn't get what he wants, he keeps on egging me to work better.  If it's a human that you have to create, you know the movements, design and can anticipate the execution.  When you are creating a bird, etc it becomes impossible to anticipate.  Four humans can be made to dance alike.  But for fires can't be made to behave alike. 

Script aligned with technology

Even the script of '2.0' was designed keeping the technology in mind.  Everything was aligned to 3D.  The technology was blended with the writing part.  A plus point is that it's a Stereo (3D).  If the audience have to watch a movie in a theatre, they have to be offered something unique.  That's taken care of 3D visuals and 4D sound.  

Creating technology, doing VFX 

Because of VFX, the budget did overshoot.  New technology had to be created for this movie.  Just to create new assets and create final animation stage, much of the VFX budget was spent.  We couldn't anticipate the high costs involved. The path we chose was not an existing one.  Even in the case of 'Robot', it was a first-of-its-kind vision and technology.  Creating anything new will have its share of unforeseen results.  Producer Subhaskaran garu assured us with investment.  But for him and his passion, this movie wouldn't have happened.  

Execution budget was monumental

To my knowledge, the execution budget alone was about Rs. 450 Cr.  One-third of it was spent on VFX.  Initial budget for VFX was only Rs. 80 Cr.  Extra costs went up by Rs. 120 Cr.  Since it's our artists who are there in the movie, it's all the more exciting to watch it. When we are watching a Hollywood movie, it's not our artists who are there.  

Shankar births exciting ideas

International VFX teams were excited to work on fresh ideas.  The ideas seen in '2.0' are original.  Technology is one thing.  Content is another.  The very subject of '2.0' is universal.  There is also social awareness.  Shankar garu has touched upon a never-seen-before subject.  I am sure this movie is going to make a mark even on the global stage.  

Indian minds in VFX studios

'2.0' had around 2150 VFX shots, and the execution was done in 25 studios.  DNeg, the prime studio, was Indian.  Most of those who worked on the movie are Indian technicians.  3-4 studios were of Hollywood.  

Rajinikanth did it

I have worked with Rajinikanth garu since 'Shivaji'.  He is a wonderful human being. During the making of '2.0', he had a severe cut.  He tried to cover it up without complaining because the shoot would be cancelled.  We forced him to be taken to the hospital. It took one month for the wound to be cured.  

Akshay Kumar never complained

You won't see Akshay Kumar garu without make-up in the movie.  Every time, it took 3 hours to put the make-up on.  And he would be in the heavy costumes for 6-7 hours.  He would develop rashes due to severe sweating.  

Tweaks can reduce the budget

My role combines that of VFX supervisor (creativity aspect) and VFX producer (in what time, in what budget, etc).  We had to make '2.0' at almost one-third of how much a Hollywood movie would need.  'Robot' was made with some tweaks (VFX budget of the movie was Rs 14 Cr), like Chitti had short hair, wore glasses.  These adjustments were made to control the budget as long hair, flowing clothes (simulation becomes difficult here) and recreation of eyes need a lot of money.  Rajamouli garu too understood these limitations in 'Baahubali'.  Small adjustments can reduce the budget to the tune of 50 percent (as in the case of 'Robot').  

Comparing Rajamouli & Shankar

Rajamouli garu and Shankar garu are unique in their own ways.  They have a very good understanding of budgetary needs, etc.  The creativity of directors like these is precious. As a VFX guy, it's my responsibility to translate their vision.  If I fail, the product will be ruined.  Luckily in my case, I got the right producers too in Sobhu Yarlagadda garu (of 'Baahubali') and Subhaskaran garu.  

Mum on the RRR movie

VFX has become a permanent craft for almost all movies. So, the RRR movie too will have VFX but I can't speak anything about the project.  Rajamouli garu himself will speak about it.   I couldn't work on 'Baahubali-2' because I had already committed to '2.0' by then. &nbs